PRICE PRESSURE OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 5 to 8 cents lower, soybeans are 5 to 9 cents lower, Chicago wheat is 5 to 7 cents lower, Kansas City wheat is 5 to 6 cents lower and Minneapolis wheat is 2 to 4 cents lower. The U.S. dollar index is modestly firmer this morning following choppy trade overnight.
SOME FORECASTS IMPROVE... Rains and snow early this week will continue to delay field work across the Corn Belt, though some private forecasts now suggest conditions may turn a little warmer and drier than previously expected once this system passes. But not all forecasters are in agreement and it will take time for soils to dry enough to promote active field work. The National Weather Service forecast for April 27-May 1 calls for above-normal temps over most of the country with the exception being the far northern Corn Belt, which is expected to see normal to below-normal temps. Above-normal precip is seen from eastern Minnesota and Iowa eastward during the period. Below-normal precip is forecast for the far western Belt.
CHINA BIRD FLU UPDATE... As of Sunday, there were 102 confirmed cases of H7N9 bird flu in China, with 20 deaths reported. A World Health Organization official told Dow Jones newswire there may have been limited human-to-human spreading of the disease but there's no proof of sustained transmission of that nature. The source of the disease remains unknown, partly because infected birds are showing no signs of being sick. Meanwhile, Chinese media estimates the Chinese poultry industry has lost 17 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) because of H7N9 thus far.
ECONOMIC REPORTS WILL BE FOCUS FROM WASHINGTON THIS WEEK... The congressional floor agenda is rather light this week, with hearings on several ag-related topics more of note. Those hearings include the new farm bill and several appropriations hearings. The House Ag Committee starts in on some of their farm bill planning, with a subcommittee session planned on horticulture issues for the bill. The economic calendar will feature important updates on housing, manufacturing and the U.S. economy as a whole. The Durable Goods orders report arrives Wednesday, with the weekly jobless claims data Thursday. Friday will be key with the initial first quarter 2013 GDP update followed by Consumer Sentiment data. For agriculture, today's Crop Progress update will be important as it will show minimal corn planting progress and could provide some initial signals on potential damage to the winter wheat crop from recent cold temperatures. Thursday USDA will release its updated food price forecasts.
U.S. MEAT INDUSTRY WOULD GET MORE WORK VISAS AS PART OF SENATE IMMIGRATION BILL... Included within the 844 pages of the bipartisan immigration bill is language pushed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for more visas for the meat industry, a major employer in his state. The bill sets aside up to 20,000 additional visas for meat cutters and trimmers. The industry employed 158,480 Americans nationwide in May 2012, according to the Labor Department. A Wall Street Journal article on the matter notes that in South Carolina, broilers are the number one commodity. The industry generated $698 million in South Carolina in 2011, nearly 27% of all agricultural cash in the state, according to USDA. Turkeys were the second-largest commodity in the state.
COLD STORAGE REPORT OUT THIS AFTERNOON... Traders expect frozen pork stocks to total 641.8 million lbs. at the end of March, according to the average pre-report guess. If realized, that would be the second highest total on record for this date. Frozen beef stocks are guessed at 490.4 million pounds.
NEGATIVE CATTLE ON FEED REPORT... Last Friday's Cattle on Feed Report is expected to weigh on cattle futures to start the week as all categories came in on the negative side of the average pre-report guesses. The Placements category at 6% above year-ago was the biggest surprise, suggesting pressure will be greatest on far-deferred futures. But given traders' already bearish stance, the report data may not trigger an active response.
CASH HOGS CALLED MOSTLY STEADY, SOME FIRMER... Packers are expected to open the week by offering steady bids for cash hogs in some locations. But given profitable margins, cash sources wouldn't be surprised to see firmer bids develop in some areas as packers are competing for a tightening supply of market-ready hogs.
WEEKEND DEMAND NEWS... Libya tendered to buy 30,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat.